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Freedom of the Press 2008 - Papua New Guinea

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Papua New Guinea, 29 April 2008, available at: [accessed 20 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 4 (of 30)
Political Environment: 13 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 11 (of 30)
Total Score: 28 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

The relatively vibrant media environment of Papua New Guinea remained stable in 2007. Media freedom is guaranteed under the constitution adopted at independence in 1975 and the Papua New Guinea Media Council (PNGMC) is a strong lobby group in support of news organizations and professional standards. However, at times the news media clash with the government when defending freedom of the press. Tensions between the coalition government of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and the media peaked in August when news organizations challenged attempts by the administration to bar coverage of a report by the Defense Force board of inquiry which implicated Somare in the escape of Solomon Islands lawyer Julian Moti from Australian extradition proceedings in October 2006. The report recommended charges under criminal and leadership codes. The PNG Media Council is active with a well-developed code of ethics and a complaints commission. Council president Oseah Philemon praised the country's media for its efforts at defending media freedom during 2007. Nevertheless, near the end of the year, the government announced plans to revise its media guidelines. The Information and Communication Department cited the 1994 National Information and Communication Policy in their decisions to update what Department Acting Secretary Henao Iduhu characterized as the "rules of engagement" for the media industry and publishing houses.

Two foreign-owned but contrasting daily newspapers dominate the country's media. The PNG Post-Courier, founded in 1969, is owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and the rival National is owned by a prominent Malaysian logging company with major investments in the country. Papua New Guinea's only television station, EM TV, is owned by Fiji Television Ltd, but the country is moving to establish a state-run television channel. The state-run National Broadcasting Corporation is also a significant media company, and the major commercial radio network is run by partly Fiji-owned PNG FM Pty. Ltd., operating Nau FM and Yumi FM. The internet is unrestricted by the government but is accessible to barely 5 percent of the 5.9 million population.

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